Thursday, 3 January 2008

Not a happy new year

A horrible start to the year for our Footscray neighbourhood. A fire has just destroyed one house on the main road and is currently threatening adjoining properties. The smoke is awful. Embers are flying about in the wind. The police have established a road block and are redirecting traffic to let the five fire engines deal with the problem unhindered. The good news is that we're pretty sure that everyone escaped the fire without injury. I spoke too soon. Three people died.

I'll update this when I find out more. I really don't have anything else to add.

9 comments:

Sherryl said...

The news this morning said three Indian students died, and three got out OK. Horrible, horrible.
I wonder if the extreme heat we're having, and people overloading their power boards with cooling appliances, is the cause?
People drowning, car accidents, bush fires ...

Snail said...

The arson squad were there earlier. I'm not sure if they're still around. The MFB were saying that there were no smoke detectors and suspect that lack contributed to the number of deaths. I guess we'll hear more soon. (This little neighbourhood is surprisingly tight-knit for an inner urban area.)

The speed with which the fire took hold was extraordinary. It seemed to be no more than a couple of minutes. There was a huge, strange crackling noise that sounded like something metal being dragged down the street and then a series of pops. Within a minute of that, the fire appliances arrived. (The MFB estimated that they were there in 3 minutes of the original call, which gives you an idea of how fast it spread. Two minutes from call to conflagration.)

Some neighbours and I saw the couple who rented the house, so assumed that everyone was okay. When the ambulance left soon after, we thought it wasn't hanging around because no one needed treatment.

The fire fighters were marvellous, but when the roof caved in there wasn't anything they could do.

pohanginapete said...

That's horrible, Snail. Very sorry you have to deal with that knowledge at the start of what I trust will be a much better year.

Here in NZ we've had a bad holiday period on the roads, and the highest number of drownings for 4 years. For some people — those who have to deal with the emotional consequences — the New Year will forever be marred. For them, I wish at least the gift of resilience.

It seems insensitive or inappropriate to wish you a Happy New Year, so instead I'll trust the good things will more than compensate for such a close-to-home tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Snail ... what to say ... only that we are thinking of you and your community.
jj

Snail said...

It's been a bad holiday season all round, Pete. But it's also reminded me that there's a lot of decent people around the place, like the brothers who broke into the burning house to try to rescue those trapped inside. And as for the fire fighters --- really, I can't praise them enough.

jj, :) but I think I'm just wallowing now! I do feel for the family and friends and for those brothers.

Snail said...

Oops, I just had a look at that emoticon. I don't think it conveyed what I wanted it to convey.

Sherrie said...

:( Oh, Snail.. what a sad and difficult way to begin the year for your community. Sending affectionate and strengthening thoughts your way....

S

Tracey said...

Oh, Snail, I'm so sorry. I missed the news so hadn't seen this, but I've just read your blog report and the news link -- that's so tragic. How wonderful, though, to see the bravery of those who pitched in and tried to get people out. Still, those poor boys, their poor families...

Snail said...

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade did the rounds on Friday, door-knocking and handing out detailed booklets on how to avoid a similar situation.

The source of the fire was an overheating computer --- Sherryl was pretty much on the mark. The students were all sharing one room (to save rent, presumably, because it must be horribly expensive to be a full fee payer), so there was plenty of fuel in the form of mattresses and books. These old, dry wooden houses burn like kindling. My next place is going to be stone and steel.